Generalising is no longer an option when it comes to a yacht’s internet connection
Greater demand for connectivity means that, today, it is simply not enough to offer a one-size-fits-all solution. Each yacht has a set of personalised demands dependant on a variety of factors; where it plans to sail, how often the owner is onboard, and what kind of entertainment they wish to install are all potential influencers. Getting online isn’t an exact science, and so there is no ubiquitous formula which providers can implement to ensure a perfect connection every time. Finding a cost-effective solution with connection flexibility, reliability, and cost management that is also capable of providing plenty of bandwidth is no easy task. However, when requirements are considered with enough care and thought, it can be done. Around the world, cellular routers have been skilfully used to achieve this…
When Yacht Servicing Company Jes Sea were asked to equip the M/Y Veloce with bells and whistles such as VoIP, Sonos multi-room speakers, AppleTV and a Crown network amplifier, they knew that their connectivity requirements went far beyond simply getting online. In order to make all these toys play together nicely, a MAX HD2 dual LTE router, 3 AP One Enterprise access points and an AP Flex via POE were installed to provide the network, using 2x LTE connections as well as Wi-Fi WAN. This unique combination keeps the yacht’s entertainment systems working in shipshape condition to make sure they never miss a beat.
On the M/Y Fortunate Sun, owners and guests were not happy with the slow Internet speeds provided by their previous solution. As the vessel was travelling across Europe, the Caribbean and the US, they also need to have access to 4G LTE service. So, they employed a MAX BR1 compatible with European carriers, as well as a US-compatible model, with 2 high gain omni-directional cellular antenna. They now enjoy reliable and secure connection no matter where they are.
The Captain of M/Y Limitless wanted to improve data services for the owner, guests, and the crew. Using both MAX HD4 European and US-compatible LTE routers, cellular connections were bonded together, with the data encrypted over SpeedFusion VPN. SpeedFusion Bandwidth Bonding on average achieves up to 80Mbps. As a bonus, though the vessel was travelling through Europe, the Caribbean and the US, data services made it possible to access media streaming services from outside of their IP geolocations.
As the M/Y Albatros travelled in both Mediterranean and Caribbean seas, it needed to provide guests with fast and reliable Internet while seamlessly transitioning between different cellular providers. Using 2 MAX BR1 LTE equipped routers with redundant SIM slots for maximum coverage, they were able to keep the yacht connected while 7 AP One AC Mini access points spread the Wi-Fi quickly and powerfully throughout the vessel. All while under the watchful, managerial eye of a Balance 580 router.
The owners of M/Y Dester needed not just a strong internet connection, but enough bandwidth for VoIP as well. To achieve this within budget, connections were prioritized from lowest to highest cost networks such as Wi-Fi (as WAN). This meant that it was easy to minimise coverage charges from cellular or VSAT providers. InControl Fleet Management also provides the owner with an easy way to remotely review the yacht’s location and connection configurations.
Connecting the world’s LARGEST ship – the challenge
Pioneering Spirit is said to be the world’s largest crane vessel, with a length measuring 382 metres – the same as the Empire State Building in height. Equipped with immense lifting power, the vessel is taking on the decommissioning of Shell’s 24,000 tonne oil rig, known as the Brent Delta. Yet located 115 miles off the coast in the North Sea, the environment is harsh and the waves rough. It’s certainly not a luxurious superyacht, but this monster’s demands inarguably surpass any requirements that a superyacht is likely to have.
Above all, it needed a way to stay online at all times, whether it was out in the ocean on a decommissioning project or moored by the shore. Connectivity is crucial for the safety of the crew, and it was critical that the boat could coordinate with the head office at all times. So, they wanted to make use of as many available connections for their sea-going operations as possible. Budget was not a concern for them; they could have relied solely on VSAT and spent tens of thousands of dollars. However, their goal was reliability and flexibility; they wanted to have a diversity of ways to maintain a connection.
How was it done?
They used a Peplink Balance 710 router to prioritise their many WAN connections as follows: Point-to-point Wi-Fi, LTE/3G, VSAT, and finally tethered data from an Iridium satellite phone. When the vessel is at shore, it is connected to point-to-point Wi-Fi. When this becomes unavailable, it fails-over to cellular network connections provided by two outdoor-certified MAX HD2 IP67s. Once it leaves shore coverage, cellular networks will take over until they are out of reach of the cellular towers. At which point, VSAT takes over, with the Iridium satellite phone as an additional failover option.
This all means that the ship can stay online consistently, no matter how harsh a climate it faces, all while prioritising the most cost-effective connection at all times.
Specification needs expert opinion
All of the above specifications were solved by Peplink, a connectivity provider whose extensive experience providing internet in a variety of fields means it has heard a fair share of specific and formidable requests in its time. However, the company is always willing to take on a new challenge. “We love it when we get a request which makes us really think. We’re a bunch of problem solvers here at Peplink, and it’s so satisfying to find solutions that completely fulfil a client’s needs,” said Alex Chan, Peplink’s CEO.
He continued: “We’ve actually just launched two new upgraded versions of a product – the HD2 Dome and the HD2 Dual LTE Outdoor Metallic Router – which we hope will help superyachts maintain an even stronger and faster connection. These products can be integrated into any yacht’s system to better fulfil the needs they may have onboard.”
The reason that, all too often, connectivity is offered as a more generalised solution, is simply that it is easier. Creating a solution that is completely tailored to each yacht’s needs requires experts who are willing to commit time and energy to the problem. But although this may take longer in the first instance, if you are looking for excellent internet connection for years to come, it is undoubtedly worth dedicating expert time and resources early on.